San Francisco looking out to Modesto to boost its water supply

Deal would add to city's sources that now include Hetch Hetchy, Tri-Valley aquifers

A part of San Francisco's future water supply that would be sourced from the Modesto area hangs in the balance as water district officials there consider concerns raised by local farmers about selling water to San Francisco.

The Modesto Irrigation District will vote on a 2,240-acre-feet sale to San Francisco next month, approximately nine months after it first

solicited the public for comments and concerns about the Tuolumne River water transfer.

District officials Tuesday released a revised version of the contract for the transfer on the district's website and announced that the vote on it would be delayed from July 10 to July 24.

Opponents say the sale would create shortages in dry years for farmers and residents supplied by the water district, including the city of Modesto, for whom the water district provides untreated water and treated drinking water.

But the water district's canals are in need of improvements, and supporters say the revenue from the sale could fund upgrades to the canals.

Farmers currently pay $9.30 per acre-foot of basic allotment. At $700 an acre-foot, San Francisco would be paying about 70 times the farm


San Francisco could also be provided with a much larger second allotment, up to 25,000 acre-feet, one that requires an environmental review.

District board members are also expected to vote on whether to initiate that environmental review process at the July 24 meeting, according to district spokeswoman Melissa Williams.

Currently, most of San Francisco's water comes from the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir, which is upstream from the district's Don Pedro Reservoir.

The reservoirs' proximity means new infrastructure would not be needed to transfer water to San Francisco, according to the district.

San Francisco also owns water rights under the Bernal property in Pleasanton and supplies water to homes in unincorporated Castlewood.

Although Modesto city leaders have expressed concerns that the proposal would give San Francisco priority during drought years, water

district officials say irrigation system improvements paid for using revenues from water transfers to San Francisco would increase system and water use efficiency, making the system more reliable and ensuring sufficient water is

available for transfer.

According to a publicly available district memo dated April 27, water currently lost through seepage, which would be retained by the improvements, is estimated to be more than the amount needed for the transfers.

The agreement, if approved, would provide water to San Francisco for a period slightly longer than 10 years beginning this summer, with two 20-year renewal options.

The district estimates 10 different infrastructure improvements it has identified will cost $115 million, without taking into account financing costs.

Water sold to San Francisco could bring in hundreds of millions of dollars, should the 25,000-acre-feet sale become an option. The smaller first sale is projected to provide approximately $17 million to the water district

over the next 10 years.

San Francisco's plan to secure additional water in dry years dates back to at least 2008, when the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission

adopted a water safety improvement plan outlining such a transfer.

A San Francisco Public Utilities Commission representative could not be reached for comment Tuesday on the proposed transfer.

Dan McMenamin, Bay City News

— Bay City News Service


Like this comment
Posted by Perplexed
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Jun 27, 2012 at 9:36 am

Where is "Modesto County?" Might you mean Stanislaus County?

Like this comment
Posted by Melanie
a resident of Kottinger Ranch
on Jun 27, 2012 at 9:59 am

Ha! That was my first thought..funny. The rest of the article is not even worth reading, who knows what else is bad info.

Like this comment
Posted by Lahommed
a resident of Dublin
on Jun 27, 2012 at 10:27 am

Lahommed is a registered user.

Desalination is the answer...San Diego has done it and does not need to buy water from anyone when it can use ocean water for Farming, drinking and fire prevention. If more counties would invest in the long run water issues would not be at the forefront...and the savings...would be tremendous!

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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